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ICYMI: Our Social Media Posts This Week -- Feb. 15 - 21, 2015

Below is a review of the posts (on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter) from the past week.  You can check out the full posts by clicking on the links.

On Sunday 2/15/15 the post was about 5 employment law pitfalls start-ups should avoid.  One of the biggies, and the first on many lists, is misclassification of employees (as independent contractors instead of employees).  What’s another no-no? Using invalid or ineffective restrictive covenants. Why put something in place if it won‘t do what you want (or won’t be upheld if challenged)?  The others are in the post.

TAKEAWAY: Start-ups often have less financial resources, but skimping in the employment law area can really come back to bite – in a hard and expensive way.  Do it the right way from the start and save yourself headaches and money.

The post on Monday 2/16/15 was about a court reviving a waitress’s race bias claim because the manager said she was “too black”. Shades of the Paula Deen case? While this comment alone may not win the day for the employee, it gets her past dismissal and gives her a chance to prove her case. Not good for the employer.

TAKEAWAY: Even if a manager is thinking something like this, s/he should never say it. Train your employees – all of them – to help you avoid unnecessary lawsuits.

In the post on Tuesday 2/17/15, we talked about why estate planning can’t be “once and done”. The quick and easy reason is that life is ever-changing. They say the only things that are guaranteed are death and taxes; estate planning is looking forward to the former, but the latter, while always there, might change and effect your estate plan. Other changes that might affect your estate plan are in the post.

TAKEAWAY: Make an estate plan, and then review it periodically with an attorney to make sure it legally covers your situation as it may have changed.

The post on Wednesday 2/18/15 was about whether you can require an employee to call HR during FMLA leave. The answer is yes, as long as everyone on all types of leave has to call in.

TAKEAWAY: You can make it more onerous for employees to ensure less abuse of FMLA leave, but you cannot treat FMLA leave differently than other types of leave.

In the post on Thursday 2/19/15 we noted that the EEOC won its Mark of the Beast religious discrimination suit. Are you wondering what in the world this is about? Simply, the employer wanted to put in place biometric right hand scanning to track time and attendance. The employee, an evangelical Christian, declined, saying that would assign “the Mark of the Beast” on him. The manufacturer said he could scan his left hand; he still declined, saying it would still result in the events listed in the Bible. Did the employer win? Not so quick. The employee offered to continue to write down his hours by hand; the employer refused and the employee retired early.  Did the employer win now? Nope. Why? The employee found out that the employer allowed those missing fingers and who could not use the scanner to enter information on a keypad.

TAKEAWAY: Remember that you have to try to accommodate religious beliefs of employees, especially when there is a viable alternative offered to others that would resolve this situation.

On Friday 2/20/15's post, we talked about return to work issues under the FMLA not just being limited to the FMLA. Huh? When the employee has taken all 12 weeks of allowed time, whether all together or intermittently, the employer’s obligation is done, right? Not necessarily. If the employee is unable to return to work, the employer may be required to grant further leave under the ADA if the circumstances warrant.

TAKEAWAY: As we’ve said before, don’t look at the FMLA in a vacuum; consider it in conjunction with the ADA.

Finally, in the post yesterday 2/21/15, we talked about 2015 federal regulatory agenda rules sure to impact employers. So what are some of the items? Non-retaliation for disclosure of compensation information, overtime requirements, and summary data on employee compensation.  Others are in the post. Why should you care? These items are ones that will receive extra-special heavy-duty attention from the appropriate agency in the 2015 year.

TAKEAWAY: While employers should always want to keeps their noses clean as relates to all legal requirements, they should be especially wary in these areas during this year as agencies will step up enforcement.

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